[eDebate] Ledewitz terrorism link to Morrison

Morris, Eric R EricMorris
Fri Sep 8 11:08:03 CDT 2006

>I disagree with Eric's contention that it is not an ethical issue. Why
fabricating evidence unethical--or is it? I suggest that many of the
reasons one would give for saying fabrication is unethical and should
not be
condoned, would also apply to people ginning up evidence via
solicitation of
key quotes from experts.

Fabricating evidence IS an ethical issue, in my opinion. While I'm
confident, knowing Josh, that the email exchange really happened, etc.,
I think the risk of fabrication is more an example of how this type of
evidence COULD be misused more than IS being misused. Saying that a
practice opens the floodgates (which isn't necessarily a bad argument,
by the way) to unethical behavior is different than saying it IS
unethical behavior. As a practical concern, if my teams were defending
the position you hold in front of a judge that saw merit on both sides,
I think they would be better served by framing it in practical terms
instead of alleging an ethical violation of a norm which may not really
be a community norm. 

More to the point, I suggested in the last post that ethics implies
near-consensus, good reasons, and perhaps more explicit framing (just as
professional organizations have explicit ethical codes) so that people
know the ethical environment regardless of where they apprentice. Saying
that several arguments related to fabrication apply by analogy is just a
small part of the "good reasons" criteria. Perhaps you disagree with
those criteria, or would offer different ones?

There are many practices called into question by your position. Lots of
people read the Berube dehumanization card, which is probably better for
debate than some impact cards since its author knows about debate. Are
you saying he was unethical for writing it or that students are for
reading it? Would you say the same for the space weaponization card by
Mitchell (et. al.) even though there is a claim to expertise in the
field? People used to read lots of debate theory cards from "experts" -
are you saying that practice was not merely imperfect but wholly
unethical? If I'm speaking, writing, or interviewing in a situation
where my words are likely to be published, must I avoid asking asking
that could lead to cards because some one (not even my teams,
necessarily) might find and use them? Probably each of those examples
would need to be encountered to sort through the issues of what SHOULD
be viewed as ethical (which is prior to deciding what IS or IS NOT

I experience your discomfort over the potential, but think that
dismissing the discussion on ethical grounds is hasty. I still think
this issue is worthy of wider discussion....


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